Monday, February 2, 2009

battle lines

The other day I was talking to a good friend of mine about kids, houses, parethood; you know, generally solving all the world's problems. She made a comment that has stuck with me, which she does often; Denise is quite profound. She was talking about her house and how it is messier than she would like it, but that she made a decision to not focus on that. Instead, she felt like she needed to focus on the love in her house, because she felt it was lacking. The kids had been bickering and she wanted to increase the love. I liked her point, because I think it is true that we have to decide what goals to prioritize as parents. We just can't do everything. Well, at least I can't.

So, I have been thinking about the principles and values that mean the most to me and that I stress with my kids. It has been interesting to realize that some of the things I make the biggest deal of to my kids are actually things that teach them important values. It's nice to know. Here are a couple of areas I have been working on with the kids:

** I have been teaching the kids to clean up after themselves. They both know now that when they come in the house, they are supposed to put away their coats and shoes. And they actually do it, miracle of miracles. Also, they are much better about throwing away wrappers from food rather than just dropping them on the floor and generally picking things up that I ask them to. They still make messes, but they are becoming much more cooperative about cleaning up. I like a clean house. I really do, but I can handle some clutter. I don't totally stress out if the house is messy, but this is important to me because I want them to learn to respect their possessions and to respect me. There's nothing that aggravates me more than a kid who just expects me to clean up after them. I am hoping to instill in them a sense of responsibility and a respect for others and for what Bil and I do for them.

** We have been really stressing that the kids use the words "please," "thank you," "excuse me" etc. This was something my parents really focused on and I think it is so good for kids to have nice manners. Plus, I think it helps lessen that feeling of entitlement that most kids have. I want my kids to understand that I don't have to help them or give them things. They should be grateful when someone does something nice for them and they should ask for things politely. It goes a long way toward getting what you want, too; people are so much more likely to help you if you are polite.

** Anger management is another priority for us. This one is tricky; I am not always sure how to teach the kids how to react in appropriate ways, since to be honest, I am not always the best model of proper anger management skills. But we are working on it together.

What are some principles or values that are important in your family? Do you have any areas that you are really working on? Why did you pick those areas? What has worked for you?


a Tonggu Momma said...

good stewardship - we don't want the Tongginator to grow up with a huge sense of entitlement, so we limit belongings, but we also insist that she takes care of that which she already owns

respect - good manners goes along with this, I think, but also obedience and just plain treating others the way you want to be treated

Denise said...

Imagine me making you think. I enjoyed your thoughts. I will have to continue thinking about what I want to teach my children and then NOT feel guilty when I feel like I am failing miserably. I think mostly I am grateful they know I love the Lord! I feel like they are gaining a bit of that love for the Lord, for the scriptures and for spiritual matters, for what is RIGHT versus what is WRONG. Small baby steps where we see it click inside...those are the things that matter most to me. That they feel MY love is also important to me....but yes, I will still be pondering this new post of yours.

Amy Jane said...

Oooo - good post, Patty. We definitely stress manners with Nick - please, thank you, greeting people properly, etc. He also does a pretty good job of cleaning up after himself, and is usually eager to help. Nick has very well-developed capacities for sympathy and empathy, and we try to capitalize on that and help him see how wonderful it is that he's in tune with others' feelings.

Sure sounds to me like you're doing a wonderful job, Patty.

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

Great post, Patty. Anger management is a hard one in our home too.

We focus alot of making "wise choices." We use the Proverbs alot and ask "What does a wise person do?" when facing situations. It has really helped Daniel judge which actions should be taken.

I'm with TM on the entitlement thing. We limit the material possessions our kids get too. Very importatnt!

Kia (Good Enough Mama) said...

I'd like to say that anger management was a big priority here, but then I'd have to admit that I have a problem, right? RIGHT??!!! ;)

I too am trying to teach the boy about putting his toys away when he's finished with them. What's with the throwing of food wrappers wherever they fall?!!! LM has issues (surprise!) with this.

Anonymous said...

I have to work on this. I have never really sat down and determined what values I want to teach my kids. I hope, no, I believe, that I am living my values daily. By 'practicing what we preach' I believe that it is imprinting on them. We do have conversations occasionally about it. For example, I have never articulated (to anyone) that I don't want my kids to feel a sense of entitlement, but we do make them take care of stuff and we do limit their material things. I just didn't do that with the goal of not creating a sense of entitlement. I just don't like to have a lot of things, and I don't think they need a lot of stuff.

Hmmm, you've got me thinking.

bernthis said...

I too am making my kid take her dishes from the table and to clean up her room.

The sense of entitlement thing is a biggie. Especially in L.A., I can't stand it.

The anger thing is tough but the rule in this house is no one is allowed to go to bed angry, no matter what.

Also, as a divorced parent, when she cries for dad (after I have said "no" to her") it is horrible b/c I know that I am being manipulated and I feel so so so guilty that we are not together, like I let her down

Anonymous said...

I LOVE hearing other parents teaching their kids good manners. There does seem to be a terrible sense of entitlement in some factions of society and I think old-fashioned manners and respect goes a long way toward eliminating this.